Monday, January 01, 2007

Can You Dig It?

I got a phone call last night from someone who trains at Biscuit Eaters wanting to know if I would be interested in helping dig the field out so we could practice a bit before the trial next weekend. A normal response to this query would be 'Are you crazy?' My response was 'Hey, that's a great idea, I'll see you there tomorrow'. So I spent my precious day off shovelling snow around a field so I can play with my dogs. We thought we'd be able to clear a small area so we could set up a mini course or some training exercises but there was so much snow (a foot at least, probably more like 16") left that all we managed was a path between some of the obstacles and a small area in the middle just big enough for 4 jumps very close together. We did manage to dig out the A-frame, dogwalk, teeter and weave poles and arrange them in a circle with the jumps in the center. The only problem was that we didn't shovel a path for ourselves so it turned out to be a good distance handling exercise. I found out that Cody needs a lot of help finding his weave pole entry, even with his path to the entry defined by the shoveled path. He refused to do the poles without me going along to show him the way. Once in he worked ahead of me no problem as long as I didn't lag too far behind. On the positive side he didn't pop out at pole 10 so maybe I need to start handling from behind him a bit. He can easily see me and he's not so tempted to pop out if I'm behind.

Contacts were a nightmare. He was hitting them o.k. but he started self-releasing when he realized I couldn't get to the bottom to reward him (due to huge mounds of snow in the way). Just like at NADAC trials, he's decided that if I'm at a distance he doesn't need to hold his position. And I let him get away with it, bad me. Mainly I didn't want to demotivate him since he was a little freaked out with the weird practice area and it was too hard to get to the contacts to remind him what to do.

One good thing about the area being so small was that I was getting some really nice tight, collected turns. Cody was paying close attention to my body language, no small victory.

I ended up spending an hour shovelling and about 15 minutes practising. At least I can go back during the week for a few more sessions before the trial. Maybe someone else will come and clear some more. The woman who owns the land came out, amazed at what we were doing. I guess it must have looked insane. We explained there was a trial this weekend but still.

As far as my own training, I spent an hour Sat. cross country skiing at North Boulder Park. It was a nightmare, way too crowded. Sunday Jonny & I went up to Eldora and it was so much nicer. Perfect snow and hardly any people on the trails we chose. Most of the traffic is on the novice trails which turn into a race track for the off season road bikers/triathletes turned skate skiers, adrenaline pumping and heart rate monitors beeping away. There's a beautiful trail called Zarlengo that requires a tricky descent of a very steep, twisty hill (and of course ascent of same hill on the return) but it's worth it and there's no skating allowed so it's usually fairly quiet and more of a peaceful, wilderness type experience. There were signs up about moose being spotted on this trail as well as on Buckeye Basin, the one we did last week. Unfortunately we didn't see any but a friend who'd gone up earlier on Sat. saw a moose with 2 babies right off the Buckeye Basin trail. Maybe next time. We made the mistake of going up a new trail, Antelope Creek, which was a loop off of Zarlengo. It turned out to be a long, steep climb then a too fast, scary descent on a trail that didn't leave enough room to snowplow to break your speed. Jonny went down a couple of times and I wrenched my hip trying (unsuccessfully) to snowplow. Eventually I gave up and went flying down with my skis in the tracks and my heart in my mouth. I somehow managed to get to the bottom without crashing, hitting a moose or needing a new pair of pants (just). It was a bit much for the physical issues I'm dealing with and I was a bit sore this morning.

Of course that didn't stop me from taking Cody out for a short trail run this morning on the Open Space near my house. I felt stupid driving to go for a run even though it was only 5 minutes but I wanted to go somewhere different for a change and also somewhere where Cody was allowed off leash. The trail was packed powder, no problem at all with the Yax Trax. Cody was SO happy, running like a loon in the snow. I decided to move from 4 minutes run/1 minute walk to 5 minutes run/1 1/2 minute walk and I managed 20 minutes total running with no problem. That is, until I stopped and realized how sore I was from yesterday. Those weird groin area muscles that plagued me for so long after the crash and that haven't bothered me for months were acting up. The shovelling this afternoon didn't help matters. Tomorrow I go to masters so my legs will get a rest.

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